On this date in 2000, the ILH passed a rule limiting football teams to a roster limit of 65 without telling the coaches or athletic directors.
Saint Louis boss Cal Lee vowed to fight it. A year later, Lee’s second stint as head coach was over, but the rule went away before the season started.
“Isn’t participation in extracurricular activities what we want?” Lee asked. “To me it’s wrong to limit participation.”
Iolani headmaster Val Iwashita headed the task force that came up with the rule, saying that any more than 65 players is ‘totally unnecessary.’
Lee proposed being able to enter two football teams into the league, with Saint Louis, Iolani, Kamehameha and Punahou in Division I and Saint Louis B, Kamehameha B, Damien and Pac-Five vying for the league’s Division II title. ILH executive secretary earlier pointed out that league bylaws do not allow two varsity teams in football.
Kamehameha athletic director Blane Gaison, who is now the ILH executive secretary, said his school would field two intermediate teams. The ILH did away with JV football in 1999 when Pac-Five, Punahou and Iolani dropped their programs.
“I feel bad for the kids who won’t be able to suit up and represent their school,” Gaison said.
Punahou coach Kale Ane also didn’t like the principals’ attempt at parity in football. He pointed out that his school had 178 boys and 168 girls on its track and field teams.
“I hate to penalize kids; that’s what this does,” Ane said. “We don’t do it in other sports.”
The roster limits lasted only one season, but Lee had to enjoy the fruits of his fighting from away from the sideline. Lee retired after one year under the new rule, winning the ILH but lost to Kahuku in the state final. Quarterbacks coach Vince Passas said in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that the roster limit was part of what caused Lee to walk away.
“That 65-player limit when you’ve got 100, what can you tell them?” Passas said. “Sorry, we can’t take you to the Stadium?”